Daniël de Witt: GHOH (Caregiver) – Give back that HOPE in the darkness
“Give back that HOPE in the darkness” My journey started when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was only seven at the time, but we helped with changing of her dressings and cleaning the wounds. We even stood by a dustbin ‘pulling’ her hair out, which sounded like fun at the time, but looking back it was very emotional for my mother because she was ‘losing’ the things that makes her a woman.
For a seven-year-old seeing your mother in pain is difficult, you cannot help her and you feel useless because the scars might be physical but there is nothing you can do to help fight off ‘the monster’.
I never actually told my story, I always just said that my mother had cancer, I only told my story when I was in Grade 10, when my teacher told her us of her battle. I was the only one in class with almost the same experience, so she asked me to tell my side of the story. I immediately burst into tears, because I never thought of that part of my life and never thought about the helplessness you feel when your mom is in the hospital, and you cannot just kiss the pain away.
My father also heard those dreadful words, he was diagnosed with skin cancer. Hearing that yet another person in my family had cancer made me feel helpless, I could not help, I could not stop the ‘spread’. Luckily, he did not have to go through treatment as they removed it all in the first surgery.
At one of the CANSA Relay For Life events I saw my eldest sister wearing a survivor sash. It broke my heart finding out then that someone that close to me had cancer and could not tell me.
Being a younger caregiver, I could relate to other teenagers and young adults that are caregivers and the feeling of being totally helpless. Now you must care for the person that always cares for you, it is terrifying, “What if something happens?” or “What if I can’t help?”
I have been part of the CANSA Relay For Life for over 10 years and I am currently a committee member on CANSA Relay For Life Pretoria. I am actively involved in all CANSA events because I felt like since I could not help that much when I was young, but I can give back now. Give back that smile when the tears are in the way and give back that HOPE in the darkness. Being involved with the CANSA Staff, volunteers, survivors, and caregivers have provided the perfect platform for me to give back, share and help other “7-year-olds” to cope.
Relay For Life not only supports cancer survivors but caregivers as well. It’s about the new people you meet and the old ones you get to see again. You realise “I am not alone. Others have gone through it as well” and it helps with the psychological factors that come with the words “YOU HAVE CANCER.”